Wold Top Brewery Angler’s Reward Pale Ale – English Pale Ale at 4% ABV

Wold Top Brewery Angler’s Reward Pale Ale English Pale Ale at 4% ABV (C$4.93 at NLC Stavanger, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 28-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear medium gold with a short eggshell head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grassy, herbal/dank, honey, light stone fruit. (6/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: light body, moderate-low carbonation, dry bitter finish. (3/5)

I might be rating this slightly low, actually. It’s certainly quite drinkable, and the low sweetness and dry finish make it definitely more-ish. On the whole, the hops are fairly typical for English ales, with the Goldings dominating, but the Cascade certainly comes through a the back, giving it a little dank-ish West Coast flourish. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Village Brewery Friend Dandy Baltic Porter – Baltic Porter at 10% ABV

Village Brewery Friend Dandy Baltic Porter Baltic Porter at 10% ABV (C$9.12 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 24-Feb-2016)

Appearance: nearly solid black with brown highlights, one finger of dense beige head, excellent retention and lacing. (5/5) Aroma: muted, dark fruit, roasty malt, liquorice. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: full creamy body, soft carbonation, lingering bitter and boozy finish. (3/5)

Quite aside from the merits of this beer, Village epitomizes some of the finest characteristics of craft brewers: they’re big on community, and they’re big on cooperation. Not only is this a collaboration with one of the newer local breweries, but I’ve also been told the proceeds are in aid of Dandy getting a new fermenter. What do you think the odds are of ABInBevShitBeer helping MolsonCoorsShittierBeer raise capital for a project? (OK, maybe a bad example, since they’re actually pretty chummy – but only because it suits them to drive towards cornering the market.) Anyway, it’s a decent, if slightly hot, implementation of the style. The flavours aren’t complicated, and the aroma is slightly muted, but overall it’s not bad. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Belgian Style Pale Ale (2016) – Belgian Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Belgian Style Pale Ale (2016) Belgian Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$6.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 15-Jan-2016, reviewed 24-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two growing fingers of dense fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and lacing. (5/5) Aroma: bready yeast, apple, stone fruit, floral and herbal, pine, spice. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, light funk. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, moderate bitter and lightly funky finish. (4/5)

Definitely a good-looking beer, with a nice dense head, good retention and lacing. Interesting complexity on the nose and the tongue, with characteristic Belgian yeast flavours. Pretty impressive to see something like this coming from a local brewery! (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Dead Frog Brewery Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout – Milk / Sweet Stout at 6.1% ABV

Dead Frog Brewery Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout Milk / Sweet Stout at 6.1% ABV (C$4.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: nearly solid black with brown highlights around the margins, one finger of dense beige head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: peanut butter, milk chocolate, roasty malts. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: full creamy body, moderate carbonation, short duration moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

A pleasant stout, and the peanut butter really comes out as it warms. And hey, I like peanut butter as much as the next guy. I’m also fairly impressed with the restrained sweetness – although it smells rich, it doesn’t taste cloying. I’ve indicated moderate bitter here, but it’s as much from the roasted malt as the hops, which really don’t seem to factor into the aromas or the taste. All in all, it might be a bit on par with coming out as liking junk food, but it’s not bad. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 – Wood-Aged Beer at 8% ABV

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 Wood-Aged Beer at 8% ABV (C$7.69 at Okotoks Co-Op, 330 ml, bottle date 1-Aug-2012, best before 1-Dec-2015, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: nearly solid black with only the merest hint of brown around the margins, short beige head, poor retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: whiskey, baker’s chocolate, liquorice, vanilla, oak. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light alcohol. (7/10) Palate: full slightly oily body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry lightly boozy finish. (4/5)

Somewhat to my surprise, I half think this really did have a best before – because this is so mild that the only conclusion I can draw is that it’s faded in the bottle. On the up side, it’s extremely mild and easy drinking, with a very mild whiskey character. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Cowbell – Wild/Sour at 4.5% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Cowbell Wild/Sour at 4.5% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: cloudy pale straw with a short, short-lived white head, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, citrus, vomit (sorry!), light brine. (5/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, low to non-existent bitter, moderate tart. (5/10) Palate: light watery body, soft carbonation, dry short finish. (3/5)

Cow bell? Cow pie, more like! OK, I’m being unfair – slightly. The mere fact that this exists is something of a minor miracle, but it’s probably also proof that not just everyone should attempt a sour. I hate to slag a local brewery, but ultimately this is a bit of a muddled mess. Still better than a macro lager, though – obviously. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds IPA – American IPA at 7% ABV

Four Winds IPA American IPA at 7% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: cloudy pale amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, floral, pale and caramel malt, resiny pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending a little to the watery, moderate-low carbonation, lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

Just slightly disappointing. The aromas promise a punchy bright citrus and pine assault, but on the tongue the malt seems to gain traction quickly, and comes through as more caramel than pale. (Reminiscent of those malty DIPA’s I love to dismiss.) It’s particularly odd, because the finish is also moderately aggressive bitter, so it’s only in the middle where it really fails to deliver. The slightly watery body and slightly low carbonation aren’t particularly helping, either. And yes, I realize I’m damning this with faint praise, but speaking from last Friday’s experience before the Flames game, I can assure you that this is not the case, and that it’s possible to enjoy quite a few of these in succession, with friends. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds Oat Porter – Porter at 5.5% ABV

Four Winds Oat Porter Porter at 5.5% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with one finger of beige head, poor retention and moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dry cocoa, roasty malt, coffee, rolled oats. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly creamy body tending to the watery, soft carbonation, off-dry shortish finish. (3/5)

A fairly pedestrian porter without a lot to recommend or condemn. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds Nectarous Dry-Hopped Sour – Wild/Sour at 5.5% ABV

Four Winds Nectarous Dry-Hopped Sour Wild/Sour at 5.5% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one finger of white head, poor retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart peaches, citrus, tropical fruit, pale malt, straw, light brine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, light salt. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, drying finish. (4/5)

As usual, I’m a sucker for a sour. This one actually has a little bit of saltiness going on, reminding of a Gose. I like this quite a bit. There’s also some Brett funk coming through, adding a nice complexity. (16/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV

Four Winds Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one finger of rocky off-white head, excellent retention and lacing. (5/5) Aroma: bright citrus, stone fruit, pale malt, resiny pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, dry lightly bitter finish. (4/5)

The first whiff of the aroma reminded me of nothing so much as lemon Pledge. Not that it’s got a solvent edge – it doesn’t, not really – but the citrus is surprisingly bright. Hoppy, but well-balanced with pale malt. A quite enjoyable Pale. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com